There has been considerable speculation in the media today that the Government has “abandoned” its proposals to modernise the Coastguard service, which included the closure of several coastguard stations around the country.
However, the RYA has spoken today with a senior official within the Department for Transport (DfT) in order to clarify the Government’s position and has received the following statement:
"We will not comment on speculation about the outcome of our consultation. Our proposals are in response to a long-overdue need to bring the way Coastguard rescues are coordinated into the 21st century, making this vital rescue service stronger, more resilient and improving its services at the front line.
"This need will not simply go away, but this is a genuine consultation exercise and the Government is committed to taking all points of view into account before deciding how best to proceed.”
The Transport Select Committee is currently taking evidence on the Coastguard at a number of sessions around the country and it is expected to publish its report before the end of June 2011.
On 24 March 2011, the Shipping Minister Mike Penning MP said “I will not, under any circumstances; and neither will the Secretary of State, come to any conclusions until [the] Committee has reported. I promise and I make that commitment... This is a proper consultation. No deal is done”
The Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond MP, told the BBC today: "We are looking again at the best configuration that will allow us to deliver those technological improvements, those working practice improvements, and we will announce our conclusions to parliament before the summer recess.
"It's not about a U-turn, it's about deciding how best to implement what will be a very a big change in how the coastguard operates."
The RYA understands that the MCA has received over 6000 responses to its consultation.
You can read the RYAs response to the MCA Coastguard Modernisation Consultation in full at www.rya.org.uk/cruising